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more schools move forward
Teachers could give nurses a hand
By Samantha Brown / [email]firstname.lastname@example.org[/email]
Thursday, June 24, 2004
Cohasset schools have applied with the Department of Public Health to allow trained school personnel to administer medication in the absence of the school nurse.
Medication policy could be changed
When a child is suffering from a severe allergic reaction, it is essential they receive medication as quickly as possible.
During the school day, it is the sole responsibility of the school nurse to administer the medication to the student, but school officials say that policy could soon change.
Cohasset schools have applied with the Department of Public Health to allow trained school personnel to administer medication in the absence of the school nurse, provided they have been given the proper training. Applications which would allow specific members of school personnel to administer prescription medications on field trips and short school trips, as well as Epinephrine during life-threatening situations have both been filed.
Deer Hill nurse Karen Murphy, who is spearheading the effort, said she is frequently asked to accompany classes on field trips, so she will be available to administer medication should anything happen on the trip. However, she said every time she leaves during the school day, a substitute nurse has to be found, which is not an easy task. By having teachers chaperone the field trips who have been taught to administer the medication, Murphy will be able to stay at school, a substitute will not need to be called, and the student will be well taken care of if there is an emergency.
"We have 43 asthmatics and 12 who need EpiPens," said Murphy, adding many children are allergic to peanuts or bee stings. "Those two need delegation," she said, adding to date, an Epi-Pen has never been administered for an allergic reaction to peanuts, which is most likely a result of the strong education children receive at the lower grade levels on peanut allergies.
Murphy brought the matter before the school committee last week and said she would be responsible for training teachers in the proper way to administer medication, and will most likely begin training teachers at the middle-high school first. She said it is especially important to have teachers trained at the middle-high school because of its size. Committee members discussed possibly changing the location of available medicine to make it easier for teachers to locate the prescriptions during an emergency. If the school nurse is not administering the medication, it makes sense to have EpiPens in a central location.
"The teachers are willing to do it," said Murphy, adding the worst thing in an emergency situation is not knowing what to do. Murphy said because she will be leading the training sessions, she feels comfortable delegating the responsibility.
Teachers will only be allowed to delegate medication to students whose parents have given authorization. Murphy said she is currently discussing the changes with parents and expects everything will be ironed out over the summer.